Tag Archives: Nigeria

My Bint el Sudan story in Brownbook

My story about Bint el Sudan’s factory in Kano, Nigeria, with great pix by photographer Khalil Halilu, is in the January-February 2015 issue of Brownbook magazine. Brownbookbintcover290Brownbook is an urban guide to the Middle East, based in Dubai, U.A.E. (2019 update: The magazine has since closed)

For more information about Bint el Sudan, see the following:

* Surprise in the Souk

* Memories of Bint el Sudan

* 36 bottles of Bint el Sudan

* The history of Bint el Sudan (on Perfume Projects’ website)

36 bottles of Bint el Sudan

By Alison Bate

A well-worn package arrived today from northern Nigeria.

The Fedex package looked lumpy, heavily inspected, with yellow and blue stickers and tape splashed with orange type declaring “Inspected by Canada Customs”.

The sender: W.J. Bush & Co. of Kano, Nigeria. The original company of W.J.Bush & Co. may no longer exist in East London, but perfume production is still going strong in Kano, northern Nigeria.

Several readers of my article “The Bint Factor”, published in Reader’s Digest Canada, had asked if they could buy Bint el Sudan in Canada.

The short answer is no, as it’s not made in North America, but an email to IFF’s Nick Evans worked wonders. Nick is International Flavors and Fragrances’s sales manager for Africa, and he arranged for 36 little bottles of the non-alcoholic perfume to be sent to me in Canada.

When I opened the package, three cardboard boxes appeared, surrounded by crunched-up transparent plastic. Looking for all the world like boxes at the hardware store holding screws or nails.

Each box bore the company label based on a photo taken by my grandfather E.E. Burgess in 1919. And inside the boxes are little bottles steeped in history.

I’ve just pulled out one of the little bottles, green in color, and can smell the distinctive scent on my fingers: strong, lingering and surprisingly pleasant. My grandfather always said the fragrance was too strong for European noses, but it seems pretty neat to me.

Now I just have to figure the best way to get some of the bottles to Nelson, Kamloops and Toronto…

* Surprise in the Souk
* Memories of Bint el Sudan
* Brownbook article on Bint el Sudan

Memories of Bint el Sudan

Pix Sudanese perfumes

Sudanese perfumes sold in the souk.

By Alison Bate

Screenshot Readers' Digest article

My Bint el Sudan article in Readers’ Digest Canada

My feature about my grandfather’s role in creating the perfume Bint el Sudan was published in Reader’s Digest Canada a while ago.

However, there wasn’t room to include all the info I collected during research and interviews.

Here then are more details from users of the perfume, family members, former perfumers at Bush Boake Allen, original makers of Bint El Sudan, and several others.

The view from Khartoum

Alawiyya Jamal, a Khartoum-based humanitarian officer, told me that no Sudanese wedding perfume is complete without Bint.

She adds: “While preparing for my nephew’s wedding, I found it also comes as an atomizer for everyday use. Personally it is one of my favorite smells, not only as in the perfume mix but also a daily freshener.

“The other use is that it is sprayed on broken down sandalwood for the bride and married women. It is also used on the pieces of the acacia seyal wood with white powered musk as scent. The wood makes the perfume last longer and improves its smell.

“When used with the Acacia wood, it is used to scent the house, bed covers, and for those who can not afford the sandalwood, they use it as an alternative to perfume the tobes (the brightly-colored sari-like clothes worn by many Sudanese women), dresses and cloth.”

Continue reading