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"Last Supper" in Cabinet room explained

The Secretary to Cabinet, Agafili Shem Leo, has explained the decision to commission the painting of a Samoan version of the famous Leonardo Da Vinci masterpiece, called the "Last Supper", on the wall of the Cabinet room.

In response to questions from the Samoa Observer, Agafili who is also the Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Prime Minister and Cabinet, said the context of the painting depicts the esteemed position of "Jesus Christ" and the "Holy Spirit" in Cabinet's decision-making.

"Cabinet is the highest decision making Authority of the Executive Arm of Government," Agafili wrote.

"All policy decisions for the development of the country are made in the chamber. The magnitude of the workload that is undertaken in the chamber is gigantic and pressurizing, as the Prime Minister and Cabinet are mandated to make decisions every week for the country. 

"They are there to plan, decide, budget, implement and monitor developments for Samoa from a whole of government viewpoint." 

In the process of making those decisions, Agafili said they need "divine guidance."

"The Holy Spirit is our counsellor, helper, comforter and closest friend," he reminded. 

"The addition of the cross on the opposite side of the painting vividly portrays the great sacrifice of our Lord for the remission of our sins. Samoa is a Christian nation. We believe in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit."


Reflecting on his 10th year in Cabinet, Agafili said he values the way Cabinet conducts its business in the chamber every week. 

"The Lord’s guidance is always sought through prayer before Cabinet meetings are convened, and a prayer of thanksgiving is said when the meetings end," he said.

He also revealed Cabinet's emphasis on II Chronicles 7:14, which reads: "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways: then will I hear from Heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

Agafili said this verse "is the sole purpose and meaning behind the Ministry’s proposal last year to the Prime Minister, to include these new additions to the walls of the Cabinet chamber."

He added that  art is a God given talent and it is a mechanism that carefully blends the colours, creativity and imaginations to create beauty, tell stories, and relive memories, character and beliefs.

“We are blessed to know that Samoa has some of the most talented artists on earth. God bless them,” he said.

This is what Agafili said verbatim: 


PAINTING AND CROSS IN THE CABINET CHAMBER

By Agafili Tomaimano Shem Leo

Secretary to Cabinet

I have been asked several times by the Samoa Observer to explain the meaning of the new painting on the wall of the Cabinet chamber. This is my response.

Art is a God given talent. It is a mechanism that carefully blends the colours, creativity and imaginations to create beauty, tell stories, and relive memories, character and beliefs. We are blessed to know that Samoa has some of the most talented artists on earth. God bless them.

The painting in the Cabinet chamber is proof of the high caliber of our local artists to date. They had done a great job in samoanizing the famous 15th century mural painting of the Italian Artist Leonardo Da Vinci, the so called ‘Last Supper’. It is one of the most common paintings on the walls of houses of worship in Samoa, and in many Christian churches around the world. 

Cabinet is the highest decision making Authority of the Executive Arm of Government. All policy decisions for the development of the country are made in the chamber. The magnitude of the workload that is undertaken in the chamber is gigantic and pressurizing, as the Prime Minister and Cabinet are mandated to make decisions every week for the country. They are there to plan, decide, budget, implement and monitor developments for Samoa from a whole of government viewpoint. 

In the process of making these decisions, they need the divine guidance of our Lord. This is my 10th year in Cabinet and I value with humility the way Cabinet conducts its business in the chamber every week. The Lord’s guidance is always sought through prayer before Cabinet meetings are convened, and a prayer of thanksgiving is said when the meetings end. 

The addition of the painting on the chamber’s wall depicts a Samoan setting, with Jesus Christ himself at the centre, and a glamorous dove hovering above His head to symbolize the presence of the Holy Spirit. Facing the painting on the other side of the chamber is a cross, meticulously carved from Samoan wood. These are new additions to the walls of the Cabinet chamber. 

The context of the painting depicts the esteemed position of our Lord Jesus Christ and the counsel of the Holy Spirit in the decision making of Cabinet. The Holy Spirit is our counsellor, helper, comforter and closest friend. John 16: 13-14 declares ‘but when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come’. Tatou te moomia le Agaga Paia e aoao, fautua ma faatonu i tatou.

The addition of the cross on the opposite side of the painting vividly portrays the great sacrifice of our Lord for the remission of our sins. Samoa is a Christian nation. We believe in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Our old and sinful nature was defeated and nailed on the cross of Jesus Christ. Tatou te mitamita i le satauro o Iesu Keriso.

‘E afua mai mauga le manuia o nuu’ ma afai e faamaulalo le nuu, e ua taua le suafa o le Atua, ma latou tatalo, sailiili ia te Ia, ma liliu ese i o latou ala leaga, ona Ia faalogo ai lea mai le lagi, ma faamagalo i a latou agasala, ma faaolaina lo latou nuu’ (2 Nofoaiga a Tupu 7: 14).

That is the sole purpose and meaning behind the Ministry’s proposal last year to the Prime Minister, to include these new additions to the walls of the Cabinet chamber. The painting and the cross look so stunning and divinely meaningful.


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